THE disastrous encounter between a rare white-throated needletail with a wind turbine on Harris was not a good omen for wildlife tourism in Scotland ("Birdwatchers see rare swift killed by turbine", The Herald, June 28).

It's also another headache for Energy, Economy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing. How can he square this deadly contradiction between his tourism and energy portfolios?

Alex Salmond has argued that Scotland's commitment to renewable energy makes it more attractive to ecologically-minded visitors. Ministers routinely tout Whitelee wind farm as a successful tourist attraction.

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Perhaps Mr Ewing should take this creative thinking a step further, and present this week's fatality as an exciting new marketing opportunity for Scottish tourism. Scotland is now the must-visit place for viewing bird-mincing turbines in action and rare birds as museum exhibits.

Linda Holt,

Dreel House, Pittenweem.

I WAS shocked and saddened to read that a rare swift, the white-throated needletail, had been killed in the Hebrides by the blades of a wind turbine . This incident throws into stark relief the risk posed to birds by wind farms.

Each year, ornithologists flock to Scotland to view some of the best birdlife in all of Britain, all the while providing a significant economic boost for local communities across the country.

However, I have long sought to raise awareness over the effect of wind turbines on bird populations. Indeed, we already know that poorly- situated wind farms in California and Spain have been responsible for large numbers of avian deaths and this incident in the Hebrides only confirms that the headlong rush for wind farm development in Scotland will put birds here at risk.

The SNP Government needs to wake up and understand that the loss of rare birds from these shores is unacceptable collateral damage from its reckless pursuit of wind energy.

Struan Stevenson MEP, (Conservative),

The European Parliament,

Rue Wiertz,


WHILST walking in the hills behind my home recently I met a cyclist who was on a recce of a historic trans-Scotland path. He runs a company that takes cyclists on historic routes. He felt the destruction of the landscape from wind farms was starting to limit the areas he could take his tours. When he encountered areas that had been destroyed by wind farms or the Beauly to Denny upgrade, he struck those routes, and consequentially all of the tourist accommodation and eateries in that area, off of his list for future tours.

His customers visit Scotland because of its wild landscape and heritage. While the Scottish Government insists there is no hard evidence to support the claim that tourists do not want to visit a country riddled with wind farms, it may now be humbled by the latest YouGov poll which suggests that a natural environment is much preferred to an industrialised one.

The SNP's ambition to "reindustrialise" Scotland should not be at the cost of destroying one of its most entrepreneurial, developed, and lucrative sectors. Alex Salmond may have designs on Scotland to be the Saudi Arabia of the north, but should tourists be permitted to visit Saudi Arabia it would be for the culture and natural environment, not the oil wells.

The novelty of visiting any major energy production station, whether fossil fuel or renewable, is a one-off. It is certainly not the stuff of Thomas Cook brochures or the reason people book long-haul flights. People do not return to the glorious landscape of Scotland year after year to see the evolution of any mammoth industry. The SNP's constant denial of this reality and its relentless disregard of the opinions of those in the know make one realize that the only thing Saudi Arabian about Scotland is its leadership.

Denise Davis,

Secretary, Alliance Party Scotland,

White House,

Ardblair, Inverness-shire.

WE are now told that Britain has 1300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, one of the biggest reserves in the world ("£100,000 fracking boost for Scots firms", The Herald, June 28). Scotland may, since we have a far smaller population density, have the same per capita share. The discovery of shale obviously threatens the peak oil scare, prophesied annually for the last 50 years, which in turn means the oil price is likely to fall substantially. With North Sea oil particularly expensive to extract a fall in the price would be ruinous. It seems probable that the rest of the UK could very shortly (most of the US gas came online in an 18-month period) have a "gas boom" just as "Scotland's oil" becomes unprofitable.

Yet what is the Scottish Government's reaction? It is doing everything in its power to prevent development of this new energy industry in Scotland in case it interferes with its plans to become the Saudi Arabia of subsidy-dependent windmills.

Will the SNP be sufficiently lacking in hypocrisy to say that the gas is "England's gas" and that (assuming the SNP succeeds in preventing exploitation here) Scotland should have no part of the revenues?

The one thing we can be certain of is that if today's anti-technology SNP had been in charge when North Sea oil was first discovered it would have made sure none of it had been developed.

Neil Craig,

Ukip Glasgow Branch Secretary,

200 Woodlands Road,